The Essex County Child Abuse Project (ECCAP) is a collaborative effort between the District Attorney's Office, the Department of Social Services (DSS) and local and state law
enforcement officials to coordinate services for children and their families when an allegation of abuse is under investigation. The project's primary goal is to coordinate
investigations among multiple agencies and reduce the number of times children need to talk with different professionals.
The team consists of social workers, police officers, assistant district attorneys, victim witness advocates and a child interview specialist. All of these professionals are sensitive to the difficult and confusing time that children and families may be experiencing. The social worker assesses issues regarding safety and protection of the child. The interview specialist asks the child questions and is part of the team discussion following the interview. The police officer is from the location where the alleged incident occurred and,along with the assistant district attorney, determines if a crime has been committed and what other investigative steps must be taken. The victim witness advocate briefly informs the family of the course of action the team has recommended and is the family's link to the court system, if and when criminal action is taken. The team's overall goal is to complete the investigation in a child-friendly, coordinated, timely and professional manner.